Officially, Michaela Alexis (pictured) is a LinkedIn expert and LinkedIn creator who helps businesses master their LinkedIn presence through keynote speeches and training workshops. But in her own words?
“In a nutshell, I help professionals, audiences and companies shine on LinkedIn,” she said.
Alexis, who comes from a corporate branding and social media marketing background and started as a creator on LinkedIn in 2016, recently did a presentation at Community Trust for its internal staff and broker partners. While historically companies have focused on the personal branding of leadership and client-facing roles, there’s been a shift over the last year to recognizing the power of a strong online presence for all employees. It reflects well on the organization as a whole, and “it’s always going to trickle down,” Alexis noted, for example from business development managers to the brokers they work with. Community Trust wanted the entire network of staff and broker partners to realize the power in personal branding.
“It really does matter,” Alexis said.
People are shifting more towards treating their personal brand as its own business, and are trying to be more intentional with what they do to build it. She called LinkedIn the “world’s largest networking event” with over 740 million users on the platform. Thought of that way, you wouldn’t want to walk into a networking event and not have a game plan. You might want to dress up - maybe not wear those sweatpants you’re in working from home, she laughed - and think of some conversation starters or topics to share. Another great analogy, is that it’s a virtual workplace. What would you talk to coworkers about? Perhaps a great book you read, or your current favourite podcast. People on LinkedIn need to shift their mindset to seeing their profile as a handshake - an opening to building relationships and, in time, your business.
Alexis said she finds brokers tend to go straight for “here’s my services” when she believes “people don’t care about what you do and what you offer until they know who you are.” People have to trust you with their money, their house plans - with their future essentially - and while humans like to think they buy logically, they actually buy emotionally. Potential clients need a personal touch to figure out if they want to work with somebody, Alexis noted. Does this person understand my values, my needs, my challenges?
Alexis looks at what people are already doing and augments it, “because realistically there are brokers who have been running and growing their own business for decades and doing a great job at it.” Instead of replacing what’s been working for them, the key is replicating those effective offline business development strategies in the virtual world, such as on LinkedIn. This is especially crucial because of the pandemic, with people shifting how they do business - attending networking events or meeting people for coffee aren’t necessarily feasible options right now. For example, using the platform to send more personal feeling videos or voice messages, and taking the time to introduce yourself or your LinkedIn connections to new people.
Overall, it’s important to give people a good starting point, Alexis said, which means the basics: their profile. It’s great to include the details of what you offer, but Alexis recommends making it more about why you do what you do. Potential clients want to see your passion for your career, and ensuring everything on your profile, even the imagery used, clearly communicates who you are, what you do and who you serve is the best first step someone could take to elevate their LinkedIn presence.
“A lot of people say I haven’t put a lot of energy into my profile — that’s like having a booth at a networking event and you haven’t put up your signage, you’re not even present,” she said. “Spend some time really polishing it, optimizing it, making sure that it’s client-facing or prospect-facing rather than just listing the awards you’ve won.”